How Multi-location Brands Can Keep Up with the Push for On-Demand
In the era of UberRUSH, Postmates, DoorDash, and others, every business with an in-house delivery fleet is feeling the pressure to provide the same kind of on-demand delivery experience. Failure to do so, especially at this time of year when the influx of orders is at its height, may have lasting consequences.
The driving force behind the demand for on-demand is time, or the perceived lack thereof. As VaynerMedia CEO Gary Vaynerchuk put it, “time [is] the one asset none of us is ever going to get more of.” Many U.S. consumers perceive shortage of time to be a bigger problem than shortage of money. When people are expected to be available for work 24/7, they value any extra time they can carve out in the course of a day.
The disruptive power of Uber and other on-demand services lies in the time savings they bring. No one wants to spend unnecessary time, whether that’s on the street corner waiting for transportation or in the supermarket shopping for groceries. Widespread smartphone adoption enables consumers to better and more efficiently manage their day. This is forcing even the strongest incumbents to change their approach.
The biggest players in ecommerce, like Amazon for example, have quickly adapted to the needs of the market. Amazon Prime now offers free same-day delivery in some places, and Amazon has even begun rolling out one-hour delivery.
The companies that stick to their guns and don’t evolve with the market end up losing. Take General Motors as an example: It had the same process and strategy for 50 years and was so blinded by success it didn’t anticipate the emergence of new competitors from Japan and South Korea that were innovating faster. GM went bankrupt and reemerged as a leaner, more forward-thinking company. Many companies don’t get that second chance.
Hardly a day goes by without an announcement that a large company has partnered with an “Uber for delivery”-type firm to handle fulfillment. Beyond the PR value of piggybacking on the appeal of the on-demand model to generate interest and demand, especially among millennials, the benefits of these partnerships for established brands include:
- Streamlined operations. To provide on-demand delivery, businesses need to have the proper infrastructure in place to deal with high demand. It must be streamlined to dispatch orders in a timely fashion. Many companies, particularly parcel services, already have systems in place, some built internally, some outsourced to third parties. Whatever the origin, automated dispatching, especially at peak times of year like the holiday season, is a must for same-day deliveries. That’s how Uber dispatches jobs to its driver fleet. The first driver to accept the request gets the pickup. This approach has become a hallmark of the on-demand model and it’s applicable to a range of industries outside of transportation.
- Communication and tracking. Uber changed the game in terms of communication between the central dispatcher (in Uber’s case, the dispatcher effectively is the app itself), the driver, and the end customer. Consumers have been “trained” to expect the ability to message and call their driver or delivery person and communicate directly with the business itself. They likewise expect to be able to track their order (whether that’s food, a package, or transportation).
Ultimately, these internal operational and external customer-facing communication requirements enable the kind and level of uniform experience end users have come to expect. It all comes down to consumer control, and a big part of that involves saving time. That’s something for which consumers will even pay a premium.